Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reasons to Celebrate

There are pieces of paper hanging all over my house.  Being opposed as I am to clutter, this is a huge step for me...and a necessary one to brighten up the Monkey's future.  These pieces of paper aren't just clutter...they're stepping stones.

The Monkey has now been officially diagnosed with ADHD.  When I say "officially," I mean after exhaustive testing, more than 360 degrees of observation in all of his environments, and six long hours with a neuropsychologist.  Even I, with all my skepticism about the overdiagnosis of ADHD these days, have to agree that this is exactly the right conclusion.  And, just to make the soup more interesting, the ADHD brought along some friends (executive skills development delays, dysgraphia, and the sensory integration issues we were already dealing with through occupational therapy).  On the plus side, we also have concrete assessments that prove what I've known since he was little:  this child is all kinds of brain-busting smart.

The encouraging thing is that we are now to the treatment phase!!  Finally, there's no more waiting for test results or hoping to get in to the next doctor.  It's go time!  We can DO something!  Like a cancerous cell in the middle of a lot of healthy cells, we're tackling the issue from all fronts.  The school is being super-supportive...lauding every "good day" as though he'd just saved the world.  On his second consecutive day of doing all his work during class, he got a trip to the principal's office to show off his "good work" post-it to the principal himself (and the vice principal, and the gym teacher, and anyone else they could pull in).  At home, we have drafts up all over the house of "routines" for him to whenever he's gotten distracted by a shiny thing, I can just say "check the chart" and he'll go figure out where he is in his day so he'll know what's next (free time, yay!).  The Occupational Therapist is making recommendations for movement exercises and "squishes" (a mini-massage with lotion that helps his body get used to varying degrees of pressure and sensation).  I've got a tentative meeting with the school guidance counselor on Friday to talk about how to help a terribly sensitive kid deal with playground politics and the stress of feeling different.

But my favorite intervention so far stemmed from a moment of serendipity I had on Monday.  Instead of making the "routines" charts that I knew I needed to make, I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote "Reasons to Celebrate" across the top in big black letters.  This paper is slowly filling up with encouraging post-it notes from the school and quick reminders of the little victories the Monkey has had this week.  We're celebrating the fact that he did a week's worth of homework at daycare on Monday...and that he woke up this morning, checked the "morning routine" chart, and emerged from his room dressed.  He remembers to follow the steps to comb his hair?  We write it on the chart.  This way, when he starts feeling down about himself (which was starting to be a nightly thing), we grab the chart and remind ourselves that he's making progress...and that he's capable of doing little thing after little thing to get him where he needs to go.  It's good for him and me both (mamas need encouragement too!).

Is it helping?  It's too soon to really tell...routines take awhile to ingrain...and self-esteem is a slow-build.  But already I'm starting to catch the occasional glimpse of what a life with a focused, empowered kid might be like...and it's a pretty sweet deal.  More importantly, the Monkey is starting to see the shadow of it too...and I can tell that it makes him feel proud of himself.  And that may be the biggest of reasons to celebrate.


Amy said...

What an awesome week! I'm so happy for both of you.

jconwayhinton said...

Told you it was along road, but the diagnosis finally comes. I think you have found just as I did these little bumps are shared ones.

TondaM said...

I am so happy that you have a path to follow...the rest will come. You are a great mom! And he will be all the stronger for your patience and preserverance!!
It is really cool to see all the interventions...thanks for sharing!! LY